Was Religion Made Up Just to Sugar-Coat the Fear of Death?

gollywholly asked a question:

Have you ever read “The Worm at the Core” by Sheldon Solomon et al? It’s about death, and basically the theory is that everything we do and believe in is to mitigate our fear of death. It follows from that that religion, and our belief in Jesus, is just a way to mitigate our fear of death. And this is messing with my head big time. What do you think?

Hey dear friend, I’m sorry for my late reply. I’ve been on a break (due to a breakdown) but still checking my inbox, and I really love this question.

I actually studied this very phenomenon for my undergrad in Psychology, also known as “Terror management theory” or “Mortality Salience.” The basic idea is that death is inevitable, so we must give meaning to life. Therefore, religion and culture and identity are responses to death. We could call this “whistling past the graveyard.”

While the premise is intriguing and persuasive, it’s also a bit Swiss cheese, which sociologists have addressed and countered just as persuasively. Many of the counter-arguments can be found online, but I’ll offer some of my own thoughts.

Here are a few things to consider about “Christianity as a way to mitigate the fear of death.” Please feel free to skip around.

Continue reading “Was Religion Made Up Just to Sugar-Coat the Fear of Death?”